The Indigenous Honey Bees in the Himalayas: A Community Based Approach to Conserving Biodiversity and Increasing Farm Productivity
The ‘Promotion and Development of Bee Keeping through Preservation and Conservation of Apis Cerana’ has been RUWDUC’s first project. This project aimed to develop a sustainable small-scale industry that would generate income and contribute to the improvement of the livelihoods of the poor farmers of the Far West. Environmentally friendly, this program required minimal capital outlay, little time and virtually no land.
With financial and technical support provided by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) the bee-keeping programme was launched at Ugratara VDC, Dadeldhura from 23 March 1996. Men and women farmers from the area were trained in modern bee keeping techniques. Consequently, there was a substantial increase in the amount of honey and wax produced resulting in additional much needed income for the farmers. The trainees formed groups and have established a Demonstration Apiary run by the farmers themselves, which develops bee colonies for extension and promotion of bee keeping in the area.
Due to the success and impact of the past activities the project has been extended by ICIMOD. Entitled ‘The Indigenous Honey Bees in the Himalayas: A Community Based Approach to Conserving Biodiversity and Increasing Farm Productivity’. Its main activities were to promote sustainable management of Apis cerana and other indigenous honeybees in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, that can be applied by mountain communities and contribute to the conservation of bio-diversity and diversity of honeybees, as well as farm productivity. The other part focused on action research and development aspects in Nepal.
- Increase knowledge and understanding of apiculture with indigenous honeybee species by providing training and networking with other beekeeping agencies.
- Conduct research on selection and multiplication of Apis Cerana, issues of crop pollination and indigenous honeybees and communities dependant on them.
- Develop a sustainable small-scale industry that would generate income for the beekeeping farmers.
The programme was conducted in Bagarkot, Ajayameru, Samejee, Manilekh, Navadurga, Kailpalmandu, Ashigram, Ganeshpur, Belapur, Alital, Sirsha VDCs and Amargadhi Municipality.
Information Collection on Indigenous honeybees for Selection and Queen Rearing Programme: Data was collected on a monthly basis for two years for research from all the 355 bee colonies of Alital VDCs. There was an increase from the initial number of 355 bee colonies to 600 bee colonies due to this programme. There was also a tremendous increase in the production of honey compared to the initial stage of the programme. Initially the production of honey used to be approximately 250 kilos per year whereas after the programme the production of honey was approximately 1200 kilos per year.
Training and extension programme: 400 farmers both men and women from the target areas were trained in modern bee keeping techniques, hive making training, on the spot bee awareness programme, queen rearing training, beekeeping and seasonal management training, wax processing and candle making trainings and pollination demonstration.
Market study and micro-enterprise development / Action Plan: Questionnaires were developed by ICIMOD for market study and micro-enterprise development. The data for these questionnaires were collected from all the beekeepers and submitted to ICIMOD. A bee keeping shop was also established in the municipality by RUWDUC. Bee keeping stalls were also kept to display the beekeeping products for both demonstration and sale during various functions in Dadeldhura and Kathmandu.
Training of Trainers on Queen Rearing Training: ICIMOD funded a 15-day TOT on queen rearing, which was conducted by an NGO in Kulu Valley (India) for the district staff. This training was in turn provided to the bee keeping farmers of the target areas by that staff.
Observation program: ICIMOD organized a 10-day visit for the project staff and bee keeping lead farmers to visit an NGO in Nilgiri Hills (South India) for experience sharing and learning about their marketing programme (processing, labeling and packaging honey).
Time Frame: March 1996 – July 2001